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I don’t remember when I stopped imagining things the way I used to, but it happened all at once. It makes me kind of incredulous, actually, when I stop and think about it. A lot of things do, now that I’m adult.
I should qualify that: A lot of things do now that I’m adult making a concerted effort to get their house in order (the house is my brain, picture an ornate mansion and then walking inside and realizing it’s a facade carved to mask the front of a wet, labyrinthian cave, fulls of rats and half-vampires*).
It reminds me of other ways I used to be and no longer am. Things I miss, a lot, actually. Elements comprising me which I once thought were absolutely essential; the appleseeds of who I am. Examples? Allow me to dump them upon you like fragrant if slightly loose stool from a well-nourished massage therapist.**
As kid I could not go to sleep without reading. I wasn’t a child genius digging into Proust before the sandman came, we’re talking picture books. I read them over and over again and then when I was done reading them, I went back and narrated new elaborate plots to serve in lieu of the ones the authors had intended. I created lives for the figures peopling my Where’s Waldo collection. My mother once had to come upstairs and tell me to be quiet because they could hear me in the bible study in the living room. I hadn’t even known I was speaking out loud.
My parents avoided the parental cliche of telling me to turn my light out and go to sleep. I was spoiled rotten with books. I would try and imagine what it was like for people who go in bed and just turned out the lights and I couldn’t make the leap. Maybe adults didn’t need to read before they went to bed because they had to have sex? This theory seemed flawed. I couldn’t fathom being hungry for sleep, wanting nothing more than for it overtake you. My brain didn’t like sleep. My brain liked stories.
I’m one of those adults now who gets a delicious thrill slipping under the covers to let sleep bash me over the head with a silvery cudgel. I am on my good nights, anyway. Little Becca would be so impressed. Maybe a little baffled. Would she recognize me? She thought she’d be prettier. Little Becca was the most critical individual on the planet, even if she mostly kept her prejudices and determinations to herself.
But those are just the good nights. I think the bad ones would worry her more. Now, on my bad nights, a book is the last thing I want. I don’t want stories. I want darkness and noisy chatter, like a marathon of Antiques Roadshow with my lamp out, half-heartedly trying to get off in the hopes I’ll just pass out and miss the most difficult and awful part -- the falling asleep part which, if its going to come crashing down around my ears is when it’s going to happen.
This is all by way of saying, that just as my bad nights are fewer, I’ve noticed another big change -- the return of my imaginative life. I’ve always been able to turn it on and off for a buck (and thank god) but over the past five years I’ve seldom been able to access its wealth of treasures for my own recreation.
But now it’s back. I was used to plodding to and from the train thinking of nothing but the sound of my own feet and the tight knot permanently in place between my shoulders. Now, the old ridiculous daydreams are back: I am a rightful heir to some sort of medieval throne and am very good with a sword, in the sack, and bringing socialist politics to the monarchy while banging cute dudes. That’s a favorite of mine as it involves awesome clothes, crazy hair, bearded dudes, and running the free world.
Just as I wasn’t aware when I stopped being this way, I missed the part when it started again. It used to be I depended on my podcasts and my music to get me from one location to another, just as I depended on the T.V. to lull me to sleep. The landscape of my own mind (trippy, dude) didn’t hold anything appealing for me.
That’s different now. I don’t know if it’s because of the drugs (probably) or if it’s because I’m in love.*** That’s grandiose. I’m not in love (am I in love?) -- I am captivated. There is a person on this planet who captivates me. Probably this is largely in part because I’m acknowledging that there’s a world again, because I am outside of myself again, because I am taking risks, and smiling at strangers and being honest for once. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this happened basically on the year anniversary of my time in therapy, or six months into taking brain pills. I’m a more open person than I have been before (in all ways, including my recent rash of sluttiness which I will address next week) and it’s starting to make things happen in my life.
The last time I thought I was in love culminated in me walking three miles home while sobbing so hard I’m sure I cracked a rib or seven. I didn’t think I had it in me to go through that again. But I also didn’t think I had it in me to continue breathing and I’ve been doing that just fine (except for the whole choking incident that happened in water aerobics -- but that was one time). I still worry about my self-destruct button (see aforementioned sluttiness), but I’m starting to actually believe that things will continue to happen. Good things, even.
A year ago, I didn’t think they would. A year ago, the sweaty terror of every day being exactly the same until death came with its beetle-breath-smelling gullet to eat me alive was a surety. Now I am thinking about (dearlordwhoIam) THE FUTURE. Next stop, a 401K and made-to-order trousers. Gulp.
* Not this kind of Labyrinth:
** Maybe I got a massage and maybe I used their bathroom -- you don’t know!
*** Drops that bomb and artfully sidesteps it -- for now.